Erikson theory of Psychosocial Development

Who was Erik Erikson

¢Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) was a German American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. 

¢Despite lacking a bachelor’s degree, Erikson served as a professor at prominent institutions, including Harvard, University of California, Berkeley.

¢Erikson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order through eight stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood. During each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis which could have a positive or negative outcome for personality development.

Erikson theory of Psychosocial Development

Trust vs Mistrust

¢This stage begins from birth and continues to approximately 18 months of age.

¢If the infant receives proper care, they will develop a sense of trust which will carry with them to other relationships, and they will be able to feel secure even when threatened.

¢If these needs are not consistently met, mistrust, suspicion, and anxiety may develop.

¢Success in this stage will lead to hope. By developing a sense of trust, the infant can have hope that as new crises arise, there is a real possibility that other people will be there as a source of support.

Autonomy vs Shame & Doubt

¢This stage occurs between the ages of 18 months to approximately 3 years.

¢At this Stage, children started to gain a little independence.

¢They are starting to perform basic actions on their own and making simple decisions about what they prefer

¢By allowing kids to make choices and gain control, parents and caregivers can help children develop a sense of autonomy.

¢If children are overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive, and may then become overly dependent upon others, lack self-esteem, and feel a sense of shame or doubt in their abilities.

Initiative vs. Guilt

¢This stage occurs when children reach the preschool stage (ages 3–6 years).

¢They are capable of initiating & plan activities, make up games, interact with others.

¢If given this opportunity, children develop a sense of initiative and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make decisions.

¢If they are restricted either through criticism or control, children develop a sense of guilt which leads to slow interaction with others and may inhibit their creativity.

Industry vs. Inferiority

¢The fourth psychosocial stage takes place during the early school years from approximately age 5 to 11.

¢Children begin to compare themselves with their peers to see how they measure up.

¢If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious (competent) and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. 

¢If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his or her potential.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

¢It occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years.

¢During this stage, adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity, through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs, and goals.

¢Children are becoming more independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc.

¢Failure to establish a sense of identity within society (“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”) can lead to role confusion. Role confusion involves the individual not being sure about themselves or their place in society.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

¢This stage takes place during young adulthood between the ages of approximately 18 to 40 yrs.

¢During this stage, the major conflict centers on forming intimate, loving relationships with other people.

¢An individual explore relationships leading toward longer-term commitments.

¢Successful completion of this stage can result in happy relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship.

¢Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression.

Generativity vs. Stagnation

¢This stage takes place during middle adulthood (ages 40 to 65 yrs). ¢Generativity involves finding your life’s work and contributing to the society.

¢During this stage, middle-aged adults begin contributing to the next generation through raising their children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and organizations.

¢Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment.

¢By failing to find a way to contribute, we become stagnant and feel unproductive.

Ego Integrity vs. Despair

¢This stage begins at approximately age 65 and ends at death.

¢At this point in development, people look back on the events of their lives and determine if they are happy with the life that they lived or if they regret the things they did or didn’t do.

¢Those who are unsuccessful during this stage will feel that their life has been wasted and will experience many regrets.

¢Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity.

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